This I Believe that there is a spirit in man that becomes the driving force when hardship appears in one’s life.
When Tom Brokow announced to the world that my generation was the “greatest generation”, I began to look back on my life experiences and how these experiences became the basis of my life style today. During the Great Depression when my father lost his business and our lives of affluence disappeared, one experience stands out over all others.
The first Christmas I and my three sisters were each given a dollar to buy gifts for each other. I went into the local five and dime store where I bought gifts like Jergen’s hand lotion for 15 cents and a special hanky for 10 cents. I also made gifts for members of my family. This was a special time for me. The memory of many affluent Christmas’s did not hover as a shadow over this Christmas celebration, for this one was totally different. My thoughts were not on what grand gifts Santa would bring me but rather on how I could give a gift that would bring happiness to each member of my family. We each felt that way. What did I learn from that experience at 12 years of age? What really matters is, first of all, family, and that it is not material possessions that give us lasting happiness.
The many happy memories I have of those difficult years may seem insignificant. A family gathering for a Friday night supper at our local church, going with my Dad to the local elevator to grind the bag of wheat into cracked wheat for my morning breakfast, coming home from school to the wonderful smell of freshly baked bread, hiking for miles with my sisters in the fields, picking huckleberries, watching a turtle in a creek as I waded to cool off, bringing home a bouquet of wild flowers for my Mother. These memories still give me a sense of well being.
What makes a nation great? What makes a people great? Material possessions and money have never done it. It is what we do with the money we have. It is how we spend the hours in our days; it is what has real meaning for us. I have never forgotten that lesson one Christmas many years ago.
As I think again of the honor bestowed on my generation by Tom Brokow, my hope is that as this current generation faces hardships in their lives that they too will rise to the challenges with courage and creativity to make the necessary adjustments that can give them a sense of peace and a feeling of a job well done.
I accept and am proud of being a part of “The Greatest Generation”. Thank You Tom for bringing it to our attention.